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Countee Cullen: A Reniassance Man

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Countee Cullen: A Reniassance Man

Countee Cullen: A Renaissance Man

Countee Cullen a poet, anthologist, translator, playwright, children’s writer, and novelist was a man of many talents. Cullen lived an impoverished childhood and was adopted into the better side of Harlem Society by a Methodist minister. He was a key player in the Harlem Renaissance. Known for his lyrical poetry, Countee Cullen was somewhat of a mysterious figure that embodied great talent. Clifton H. Johnson stated “his reputation as a writer rest in his poetry.” Racism, love, hatred, paganism, Christianity, masculinity, and sexuality his range in the topics he covered was and still is prodigious.

Cullen expounded his view in the Brooklyn Eagle (10 Feb. 1924): I am going to be a poet at all; I am going to be POET and not NEGRO POET. This is what has hindered the development of artists among us. Their one note has been the concern with their race. That is all very well; none of us can get away from it. I cannot at times. You will see it in my verse. The consciousness of this is too poignant at times. I cannot escape it. But what I mean is this: I shall not write of negro subjects for the purpose of propaganda. That is not what a poet is concerned with. Of course, when the emotion rising out of the fact that I am a Negro is strong, I express it. But that is another matter.”

“For a Lady I know”, Cullen criticizes a rich white woman for thinking in heaven she is better than blacks. She thinks that life after death is no different from life on earth.

She feels that lower class blacks are supposed to cater to her and do all the “celestial chores.” In this short poem, he states that she is a racist. In many of his other poems, he talks about bigotry.

“Any Human to Another”, it has five stanzas. Countee is saying that my pain is

your pain. Even though we are different, we are still the same. Many analysts perceive this poem to be a cry for racial equality. Blacks and whites should come together and live peacefully because we are all one race and that is the human race. The underlying theme is we must live together in harmony caring for and helping each other.

“If You Should Go”, is talking about the joy and sorrow of love. One theme of the poem is that we never realize what we have until it is gone. It is saying that the joy once received from that love will always be there. The two stanzas show a person reaction and feelings after the joyous moment is over. He often speaks pessimistically on love.

“Pity the Deep in Love”, is about people in search of love move as men asleep because they are not conscience. They make decisions with their hearts and not their minds. Love is a difficult and hard path. This seems to be a common problem with Countee Cullen. He longed to find true love.

“The Loss of Love”, Cullen uses metaphors and imagery to describe his feelings.

After losing his love, he cares about nothing. He is depressed and begins to wallow in his own self-pity. Death does not amount to the way he is feeling. I think he would prefer to be dead than to be with out this person. “Song in Spite of Myself”, he says: “Never love with all your heart, it only ends in aching.” “Nothing Endures”, he says, “Nothing endures, not even love, though the warm heart purrs of the length thereof.” He wanted

love but when he found it or thought he did, he ended up being hurt and heartbroken. One thing that never wavered was his love for Romantic poetry.

“For John Keats”, Cullen describes his love and infatuation for the Romantic Poet. Countee designed his style after Romantic poets especially Keats. “To John Keats,

Poet at Spring Time”, he seemed obsessed even though Keats was dead, Cullen stated that “he revel with me.” Cullen was a great lyricist who poems reflected a deeper meaning much like John Keats.

“For a Mouthy Woman”, Cullen talks about a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. She abuses this privilege. God does not want to deal with her. She is even too

much for Satan. She puts me in the mind of a strong willed black woman. To the contrary, she could also be an uptight white woman who

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